Fiction Review: Nancy J. Price’s “Dream of Time”

This book brings to mind that great line from “The King and I”: “It is a puzzlement!”

Truly, where to begin. This was an interesting premise, played out in a fascinating way.

I love the author’s voice. This is her first novel, and yet there is no hesitation – the reader listens eagerly as Nancy spins her tale. You can tell the amount of research and detail that went into creating the work, as the reader slips seamlessly into the words, never once pausing over a frayed or gnarled plot device. And yet, the author does not overwhelm, or go overboard in her excitement to tell us the tale, feeding us just enough to paint the scene, to continue to deepen the mystery step by step.

Which bring me to my next item of note: the underlying mystery. Our intrepid author wasn’t satisfied with creating a story about a dream-portal time traveler, and the adventures of life in both worlds. We also get a murder mystery to solve! Don’t misunderstand me – this is not an “everything and the kitchen sink” work, where there is too much going on to understand or believe. Instead, we have a well-baked oatmeal raisin cookie of a tale, consistently enjoyable, with the occasional extra surprise. 

Unfortunately, towards the end, I bit down on something hard, and couldn’t quite work myself around to accepting how the tale resolved itself. I liked the unexpected way the dream-side of the main character’s story came to an end, that was a nice touch. Yet, the letter explaining parts of the villain’s motive was kind of anticlimactic, and lessened the impact of everything that had just happened.

Also, we don’t get an answer to the identity of a major character throughout the entire book – the one that’s causing the time travel. We get the when: 1900. The where: San Francisco.  The what:  stop the murderer. But, we never learn WHO it is that causes this transport through time, HOW it is they do so, or WHY they do it. The main character questions this herself, and is influenced by them several times, but it is never brought to light.

I hear there may be a sequel, perhaps even a series in the works, and maybe the readers will get all of the answers then. If there is a follow-up book, I will be sure to pick it up – and hope it is the same fun, if puzzling, type of story the author brings us in this work.

I received  a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley.

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